New York City's “Key to NYC” mandate has been seen by officials as the secret to increasing vaccination in the battle against the coronavirus in the Big Apple and maintaining the economy open since it went into effect in September.
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, expanded the vaccine requirements of the "Key to NYC" policy -- including for children over 5 years old.
According to NYC's Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, case rates are currently highest among our 5- to 11-year-olds. However, he pointed out that parents have already vaccinated over 130,000 kids since 5- to 11-year-olds became eligible last month.
Here's what you need to know if you have a child 5 years or older in New York City:
Is there a school vaccine mandate in place for students?
There is no vaccine mandate for students 5 and over who are eligible for inoculations. However, there are mandates in place for certain activities. See below.
Proof of Vaccination for Restaurants, Certain Venues for Kids 5-11
All private-sector workers in New York City will be subject to the mayor's vaccine mandate starting Dec. 27, affecting 184,000 businesses, while vaccine proof for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment will be required for children ages 5 to 11, according to a toughened vaccine mandate announced by de Blasio Monday.
As it stands now, New York City's vaccine mandate requires proof of just one dose for the municipal workforce and a number of other higher-risk sectors and the same to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues. The latter has not applied to the youngest eligible for vaccination, those aged 5 to 11, but it will going forward, though children in that age group will only have to show proof of one dose for now.
Proof of Vaccination for High-Risk Extracurricular Activities
That proof for those younger kids will also be required for high-risk extracurricular activities like sports, band, chorus, orchestra and dance starting in just eight days.
"Our youngest kids, we got to reach them now. Right now in this city, it's about 20% have gotten to that stage in that 5 to 11 range. The vaccine is relatively new," the mayor said. "But what we're trying to say to parents is it's urgent. Before Omicron grows, before Delta continues to stress us even worse in the winter months, get your kid vaccinated. And here's an incentive to do it."
Vaccinations to participate in contact sports like football and basketball, as well as some high-risk extracurricular activities like band practice and theater were already required by students 12 and over.
"Things where there is close contact. Things where kids are singing, anything where they are letting a lot of air out that could have a lot of impact on everyone around them," de Blasio said. "That has applied to kids 12 and up. We are now going to apply that to kids in the 5 to 11 year age range."
When does the requirement for children 5-11 kick in?
Kids aged 5 to 11 only need to show proof of one dose when the requirement for them kicks in on Dec. 14, considering they only first became eligible for their initial doses in early November and must wait at least 21 days between Pfizer's doses.
This deadline applies to extra-curricular activities and when visiting restaurants and other venues stipulated.
Are vaccines available in schools?
Yes. Schools with students 5-11 years old have held vaccine drives for the past couple of weeks.
According to de Blasio, as of Monday, these school sites continue to provide vaccinations.
"If you are a parent, and you want to get your kid vaccinated, it's so simple," he said. "It can be at your own school or it can be at the many locations nearby your home. This is something that is going to keep kids safe and families safe."
If the majority of children end up getting vaccinated, when can kids stop wearing masks in schools?
Once the majority of children are vaccinated, the next logical question on parents' minds is when can kids stop wearing masks in school?
Both de Blasio and Mayor-elect Eric Adams say they want kids to be able to take their masks off because it's important for kids to socialize --- but they're going to wait until health experts are certain that kids will be safe.